Saturday, August 12, 2006
Friday, August 11, 2006
Andrew Sullivan first published an email from a reader, which offers a fully substantive critique of the Bush-Cheney approach to fighting terrorism, and a way a successful progressive strategy could go. And it's a pretty good one:
The first response to your complaint that liberal bloggers don't offer alternatives is to quote your hero Sir Winston: "The opposition is not responsible for proposing integrated and complicated measures of policy. Sometimes they do, but it is not their obligation."
Beyond that I'd say a perfectly responsible liberal take on the war is this: The best weapon we have against the Islamic extremists in the long haul is the soft power of modern culture - its comforts, its freedoms and, well, it's enlightenment. Modernization is appealing, and will win, if given half chance. But if by our clumsy, aggressive behavior we cause moderate, ordinary Muslims to confuse modernization with American aggression, with torture, with greed for oil, and with uncritical support for Greater Israel, then by that behavior we deprive ourselves of our greatest strategic advantage.
The right policy after 9/11 was to pursue the actual terrorists to the ends of the earth, but at the same time to have the nerve and maturity to do our best to avoid actions that would alienate the moderates and young people who would otherwise find modernity appealing. Bush of course did exactly the opposite.
To believe all this is not to believe the conflict is unimportant, as you charge, it is to believe that Bush's frat-boy bravado and general incompetence is everyday worsening our long-term prospects. And that winning control of at least one house of Congress in November is the necessary first step on the long road back to an adult foreign policy.
This is pretty much what I've been advocating for the past five years. The war on terror is a war within the soul of the moderate Muslim in Pakistan. Many warbloggers think that person doesn't exist. Bush often uses the straw man argument that "Some people say Muslims don't want to be free." The only people saying that are those on his side. We are clearly not giving a palatable path to freedom for the vast majority of the Muslim world, and by sullying our own image we damage the seductive power of modernity and freedom for those who have not achieved it, as the emailer says.
Now, here's where it gets amazing. After publishing this substantive email, Sully acknowledges it, and argues that Bush's rhetoric wasn't about invasion and brutality but to "create a beachhead of democracy in Iraq." I guess the difference is that liberals realize you can't give democracy through a gun barrel, while Bush uses the words as a mere rhetorical flourish. Sully was tricked and he's feeling bad.
But then he busts this out:
But, for all Cheney's and Rumsfeld's flaws, they are at least proposing something serious, however ineptly carried out. I have yet to hear anti-war voices on the left propose a positive strategy for defeating Islamist terror at its roots, or call for democratization of the Arab Muslim world.
Let me direct you to the first paragraph of your own blog post, genius! Sully negates the entire "Democrats have no ideas" critique, and then USES it again!
You have to get up pretty early in the morning to be that stupid.
UPDATE: The Poor Man crew give a better answer.
1. First, find an empty beer bottle.
2. Next, I want all Republicans and Republican media mouthpieces like yourself, Sully, to start telling everybody that this empty beer bottle is actually full of terror! When people question whether there is really any terror in the bottle, deride them as unserious, or as being terrorist sympathizers, traitors, anti-Semites, or whatever. When pressed to prove that the bottle is actually full of terror, admit that, well, maybe you can’t meet every nit-picky courtroom standard of proof on this, but terror can’t be defeated unless we understand about unknown unknowns and all that. I mean, maybe the bottle isn’t really 100% full of terror. But here’s the thing: CAN WE AFFORD TO TAKE THAT CHANCE!?!?!
Go there for the exciting conclusion.
The Al Qaeda Candidate
That's where we're at with media discourse.
But the liberal bloggers are the mean and angry ones. Let's charter another blogger ethics panel.
I mean, are you comfortable living with yourself after you call 45-50% of the country "al Qaeda"?
And to show this isn't limited to writers for bobblehead teleprompter readers, the cures are clearly coming from the OVP.
Meanwhile, the Chief of Staff to a Republican Congressman is disrupting press-only conference calls. I love how the media moans about how the Democrats are becoming too partisan when their opponents (and their media enablers) act like 3 year-olds.
Run Away, Run Away!
The newest game in Republican politics is to run away screaming from the President. The head of the National Republican Campaign Committee, Tom Reynolds, doesn't mention the word "Republican" on his own campaign website. Missouri Senator Jim Talent is similarly obscure, painting himself on his campaign site as some sort of third-party candidate (maybe he'll join the Connecticut for Lieberman party). And today, Clay Shaw, a Florida Republican Congressman in a tough battle with Ron Klein in a swing district, unfurled a campaign ad that might as well have been put together by Ned Lamont's team:
Shaw launched a new television ad in which he personally tries to rebuff suggestions that he's too closely aligned with the Bush administration -- particularly on matters relating to Social Security, a hot-button issue in a district with a large proportion of elderly residents.
"I don't think you can reform Social Security by dismantling the system. I have disagreed with the president on this particular matter," says Shaw in the ad.
Oh yeah, should I mention that he's lying about his opposition to Social Security privatization?
Shaw's ad aims to address this problem by displaying the slogan "no privatization" and other checklist words before Shaw reaffirms his individuality. "I represent the state of Florida, not a political party," he concludes.
Klein's campaign, though, was quick to take issue with Shaw's self-portrayal. "Shaw has a privatization plan. There's no way to get around it," Klein campaign manager Brian Smoot told CQPolitics.com Thursday. "To think that this is the issue he's choosing to distance himself from the president on pushes the boundaries of common sense and credibility."
What it does is show you just how unpopular the privatization scheme is to voters. Which is why Democrats ought to use it like a battering ram in the fall.
Maybe it's the 33% approval ratings, which aren't likely to rebound, but I think Bush-bashing is going to become the national pastime in election ads... mainly in Republican election ads.
Slow News Day
Well, maybe not, but it will be for me, as I've got a producer coming into my house (!) to finish up a project. So I'll be otherwise engaged.
Looks like the UN is almost done with the cease-fire agreement that won't be acceptable to the countries and terror groups involved in the fighting. Olmert has said as much.
And it is noteworthy that the Muslim community in Britain tipped off the authorities about the terror plot. This shows you how cooperating with Muslim moderates, as opposed to, you know, bombing and threatening them, can yield positive results. As Fred Kaplan says, we need to find alliances wherever we can get them:
According to the Times of London, Pakistan's intelligence service worked "closely with MI5 and Scotland Yard" and, at the request of British authorities, supplied information that proved "crucial in thwarting the attacks" and in arresting the alleged conspirators, most of them apparently of Pakistani descent [...]
There's a broader lesson here, and it speaks to the Bush administration's present jam throughout the Middle East and in other danger zones. If the British had adopted the same policy toward dealing with Pakistan that Bush has adopted toward dealing with, say, Syria or Iran (namely, it's an evil regime, and we don't speak with evil regimes), then a lot of passenger planes would have shattered and spilled into the ocean, hundreds or thousands of people would have died, and the world would have suddenly been plunged into very scary territory.
It is time to ask: Which is the more "moral" course—to shun odious regimes as a matter of principle or to take unpleasant steps that might prevent mass terror?
The two courses aren't always mutually exclusive. There are degrees of odiousness, some of them intolerable; and there are degrees of terror, some of them unavoidable.
In addition, engaging so-called "evil" regimes might end up making them not so evil. The "good guys good, bad guys bad" approach makes the bad guys worse, and neglects the good help bad guys might be able to give. I don't even think the countries we do engage which have enabled Islamic fundamentalists, namely Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and Egypt, are pressured in any way to stop this enabling in exchange for support and cooperation. It seems like we talk to these countries on two tracks: help us to an extent, but there are other issues we don't have to talk about but accept with a wink and a nod.
In other words, there is a major debate that is desperately needed in this country about the tactics in this so-called war on terror. What is not needed is using terror attacks as an excuse to send out a fundraising letter.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Here's Who You DON'T Want on Your Fundraising Letter
SFGate's politics blog broke the news yesterday that the disgraced Mel Gibson, who conservative commentators tried to pass off as a liberal in the wake of his anti-Semitic comments during his DUI arrest, has written not one but four fundraising letters over the past year in support of Tom McClintock, the Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor (on Arnold Schwarzenegger's ticket):
But one thing's clear: the unusually gushy, three-page, single-spaced fundraising letter sent out by the star of "Braveheart," and "Passion of the Christ" to help raise campaign cash for McClintock's effort won't help much now: it could even be a "Lethal Weapon" for the GOP candidate because Gibson, arrested for DUI, is tabloid fodder for making a rash of anti-Semitic comments.
In the good old days before his current troubles, Gibson's letter shows he appeared eager to get into the political mix, detailing what he believed was wrong with California's government -- and how McClintock would set that straight.
"When I find that rare politician who will stand his ground for what is right -- no matter what the pressure or consequences -- I take notice," Gibson wrote in last year's fundraising pitch for McClintock obtained by the Chronicle.
He wrote that he had long conversations with McClintock about the state of the state, and is convinced the senator "stood solidly for principles that might not be politically correct -- but that were right and true."
The California Courage Campaign has one of the letters here.
McClintock is a rock-ribbed conservative from Thousand Oaks who participated in the 2003 recall election and finished in third with 13% of the vote. He's currently backpedaling like a madman and stating that he "disassociate(s) myself completely" from Gibson and his remarks. He says this as if it was a total shock that Gibson held these views, despite controversial statements in the past from both him and his father.
Timothy Noah has picked up this story and writes in Slate:
McClintock has a history of associating with religious intolerants. During the recall election, McClintock's deputy campaign manager and former chief legislative aide was found to have written that "Christians are the only people who can restore the proper biblical understanding of government to our modern system." Gibson's virulent anti-Semitism was, at the very least, a matter of strong suspicion well before his drunk-driving incident. Come to think of it, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose deputy McClintock aspires to become, has an awkward history here too, having defended Kurt Waldheim, secretary general of the United Nations and subsequently president of Austria, after it came to light that Waldheim had participated in Nazi atrocities (for instance, a mass murder in the Kozara region of western Bosnia) during World War Two.
The Governor and Lieutenant Governor may be different races in California, but it is a ticket and they have a symbiotic relationship. It's completely reasonable to ask the Governor if he supports a running mate that gets fundraising help from the likes of Mel Gibson. The Courage Campaign has gone a step further, setting up an online petition asking McClintock to donate any campaign contributions solicited by Gibson to the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.
This looked to be a one-day story but it's getting bigger and bigger. It's legitimate to wonder if the governor supports a running mate who consistently appeals to a hardcore Christian conservative base which has the potential to breed the kind of intolerance and hate evidenced by Gibson's remarks. It also puts the lie to this "Gibson is really a liberal, he criticized the Iraq war" nonsense that commentators tried to peddle in the wake of the controversy.
This is What I'm Talking About
I don't know of anybody serious who's suggesting that the London plot was a fake. However, the reaction in the US has most certainly been one of exploitation. AmericaBlog has the story of the prism through which this White House views literally any event related to terror and national security:
"Weeks before September 11th, this is going to play big," said another White House official, who also spoke on condition of not being named, adding that some Democratic candidates won't "look as appealing" under the circumstances.
We already knew it was all politics with these people, but this certainly reinforces it. And it ought to be beyond the pale. Let's have a debate about tactics and strategies in the war on terror, by all means, but let's not use potentially tragic events to demonize and divide. Democrats did not seek to put bombs on planes. Democrats are not anti-security. It's offensive to suggest otherwise.
Nobody should be happy about terrorist attacks. Nobody should see a terror threat and muse about how it will play to the electorate. Doing so shows a grave disregard for national security, and in many ways human life.
All Politics Is Local
You're going to see a lot more local and state stories on this website as we move toward the midterm elections. Local blogging has proven to be a force in state politics, in Montana, in Virginia, in Connecticut, in Ohio, and generally across the country. For a variety of reasons, I feel the need to jump in with both feet and support this effort.
And that starts right at the top of the state ticket. A group of California bloggers have started Governor Phil, dedicated to blogging the Angelides-Schwarzenegger race in California. I've made it well known that I have not been entirely optimistic about Phil's chances in this one. Arnold has successfully tacked back to the left, and he has starpower that a State Treasurer can only dream about. Holywood fundraisers have endorsed him, mainly because this is a company town.
But Arnold took a relentless pounding last year that was generated largely from the grassroots, and I think the netroots can only add to this effort. In Phil Angelides we have a candidate that is accepting the mantle of reform after years of being a state party insider. This could be seen as opportunistic, but here's the thing. The California Democratic Party is in fact terribly broken, and state lobbyists do take advantage of inexperienced legislators and a practically ungovernable state constitution to practically run the government. I support anybody who recognizes that problem and seeks to change it.
Angelides also said state ethical standards have slipped on Schwarzenegger's watch. In particular, he noted Schwarzenegger's moonlighting until last year in a multimillion dollar deal with a bodybuilding magazine and a practice in which some of his top staff members draw paychecks from state taxpayers at the same time they are being paid for campaign activities.
"Never in our history, except when the Southern Pacific Railroad had a grip on this state, have we had a state government so in a stranglehold of money interests," Angelides said. "It's costing us. HMO's are making billions, oil companies are making record profits ... the era of cover up is over when I take office."
I believe Phil is being genuine when he talks about his support for Prop. 89, the clean money initiative that is the linchpin to breaking the stranglehold Big Money has on Sacramento. He's supported campaign finance reform fairly consistently. His use of massive indepdendent expenditures in the primary were outrageous, but when faced with a self-funded candidate raising millions, I don't know what he was supposed to do. I'd like to see Angelides spend less IE money. I'd like to see a level playing field for all candidates. Prop. 89 is the way to do that. Angelides supports it. Arnold doesn't.
The other issues in his reform agenda are smart and well-founded (read them here). Frank Russo at the California Progress Report writes:
Yesterday’s event was full of symbolism—the giant railroad trains were the backdrop for what he had to say, harkening back to the days when the railroad barons controlled the state of California, leading to the great progressive movement around the turn of the century. Hiram Johnson, the great progressive governor from a century ago, who freed this state in a courageous battle against the powerful railroads and brought us much of the democracy we know today, including the initiative, referendum, and the recall itself, was feted. Angelides joked that he wanted to be the first Sacramentan since Hiram Johnson to be elected to the governorship.
In an anti-incumbent year, the outsider theme is good politics. Angelides is obviously no outsider. But he represents a hope for progressives that a reform agenda could be more than just election-year talk.
Webb Gets It
I line up with this:
"The news of a terror plot uncovered and foiled in England today highlights the continuing need to stay committed and strong in our fight against global terrorism. This fight cannot be won by simple intimidation. America must continue to make funding and executing the war on terror a priority. British authorities should be commended for their excellent work in foiling this terrorist plot.
"The war on terror is global and we must confront it wherever necessary, with the full array of military options available. Winning this war will make America more secure. A victory requires a mobile fighting force, one that is capable of responding to threats wherever they emerge. The occupation of Iraq keeps our military locked down in a civil war in the Middle East, and consumes resources that can better be used in the larger fight against global terrorism.
"As recently as yesterday, George Allen conflated my long-held warnings against invading and occupying Iraq with being `against ... the war on terror.' Mr. Allen knows full well that he is misrepresenting my views in order to protect himself politically from his blind support of the Bush Administration's failed strategy in Iraq.
"Beginning more than a year before the invasion of Iraq, I consistently stated that the Administration's misguided effort to drag our country into an ill-advised occupation of Iraq would hurt, not help, in the war against international terror. I am deeply disappointed that Mr. Allen is now so clearly and deliberately misrepresenting my views. He knows exactly how I felt about this because I personally explained my views to him in September 2002, five months before the Iraq invasion.
"As the events of this morning demonstrate, the stakes in the war on terror are too high for people such as Mr. Allen to be using them as cheap political props."
This is a question of tactics, not disloyalty and hating America. The public at large, in my view, is not going to brook the kind of divisive talk that we have seen in the last 48 hours, with its attendant questioning of patriotism, et al. It's been far too long to bring up the same questions. We see how the world has changed in the last five years. The Republicans are running the exact same script they did in 2002. Times have changed and they haven't changed with them.
Measure for Measure
It's sad that in an era of hyped terror alerts and FEAR Unit (Federal Even-yeared Anti-terror Repsonse), what appears to be a threat so legitimate that they shut down Heathrow Airport could even raise an eyebrow of suspicion. But, it's the necessary consequence of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. I prefer to read the accounts of today's events and see how they develop before making a definitive response.
I agree with Josh Marshall, however, that this response is kind of interesting:
President Bush just said the events in London are "a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists."
Also a pretty stark reminder that President Bush's War on Terror, the way he's chosen to fight it, is at best irrelevant to combatting this sort of danger. These are homegrown Brits apparently trying to blow up planes over the Atlantic. Good thing we've got 150,000 or so troops in Iraq to take the fight to them.
There are no anti-security Democrats. My personal challenge is how this Administration has chosen to fight this so-called war on terror and enhance security. So let's debate those issues, which is uniquely American to do, instead of the divisiveness of using the potential murder of innocents as a political cudgel. A measured response rather than a political one, in other words.
UPDATE: This is a disgusting moment for the nascent Connecticut for Lieberman Party:
"If we just pick up like Ned Lamont wants us to do, get out by a date certain, it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England. It will strengthen them and they will strike again."
Al Qaeda should, by all rights, be destroyed by now. It's been five years, longer than World War I or World War II. The fact that they aren't, that this threat is still great if not greater, suggests some problems with how this war is being fought. I mean, we didn't get out by a date certain in Iraq, we aren't picking up right now, and yet there was still a plot hatched in England. So, should we interpret that as meaning that our fortitude in Iraq has emboldened terrorists? Of course not, but that's the logical flow of such an ignorant statement.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
The Big Endorsement
I'm fairly amazed that the California Democratic Party ended up giving a neutral stance on the Clean Money initiative set for the November ballot in California. The rank-and-file Democrats support the measure, but the state party, which is institutional and cloistered, has no reason whatsoever to support changing a system that protects their incumbents and maintains the status quo. The only reason they went as far as they did, offering a neutral stance, is because the gubenatorial candidate strongly endorsed it, and they didn't want to put themselves at odds with their standard-bearer.
This is why Angelides' endorsement was so huge. Changing the party from a "No on 89" to a "Neutral on 89" means that the proposition won't go on the state party mailers, on which low-information Democrats base a lot of their votes. They won't spend money on the No on 89 effort. They won't sign their names to the No on 89 effort in the state's ballot pamphlets. In short, they won't get in the way of the grassroots efforts to get Prop. 89 passed. Of course, the state GOP will. And they'll have a lot more money to do so. But having to beat one party is better than having to beat two.
People see the role money plays in Sacramento, where the lobbyists run the show far more than inexperienced, term-limited legislators do. There will be 75 fundraisers in the last 3 weeks of the legislative session. The electorate gets this, and if the Prop. 89 message can actually get out, that the playing field can be leveled in state and national politics, that you don't need millions of dollars to serve the public, that you can change the system, that it's been done in Arizona, done in Maine, and can happen here, I think the electorate will be very receptive. And it helps plenty that the CA Democratic Party won't stifle those efforts.
Stop The Falsiness
Stephen Colbert and his hard-right buddies show contempt for the truth. At long last, somebody is speaking out about it.
Sign the petition on their site. Since the moment this attack on the truth went live back in October, I've been screaming about the need to stop this monster from hurting the nation. Thanks to this petition, the word may reach beyond the immediate vicinity of my house.
Quick Hits, non-Lieberman/Lamont edition
I've gone overboard on that race and said all there is to say for the time being. Here's some information about what's happening outside the Nutmeg State:
• The President is busy doing what he does best, avoiding accountability, this time by trying to amend the US War Crimes Act:
Officials say the amendments would alter a U.S. law passed in the mid-1990s that criminalized violations of the Geneva Conventions, a set of international treaties governing military conduct in wartime. The conventions generally bar the cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment of wartime prisoners without spelling out what all those terms mean.
The draft U.S. amendments to the War Crimes Act would narrow the scope of potential criminal prosecutions to 10 specific categories of illegal acts against detainees during a war, including torture, murder, rape and hostage-taking.
"People have gotten worried, thinking that it's quite likely they might be under a microscope," said a U.S. official. Foreigners are using accusations of unlawful U.S. behavior as a way to rein in American power, the official said, and the amendments are partly meant to fend this off.
Of course, signatories to international treaties are bound by those treaties, so decriminalizing at home won't work internationally. But I'm shocked, SHOCKED that the Bush Administration is trying to change laws and go around the Congress.
• Environmental disaster and war come together as a massive oil spill on the Lebanese coast caused by Israeli bombing could take the better part of a decade to clean up. Which won't happen until the war ends, making it even harder to clean up after that. Expect a rise in cancer rates among the people of coastal Lebanon.
• Unbelievable ignorance from Hugh Hewitt. That's redundant.
• In another nugget from the conservosphere, they're busy figuring out which members of their community represent which Lord of the Rings character while we keep winning elections. Hey, if you can't gloat today, when can you?
• The White House was surprised by Castro's illness and transfer of power. Are they on top of anything? Meanwhile, it looks like that won't be much of a power transfer. I hope the Cuban people will get self-determination someday.
• Here's a guy you don't want on your side in any debate. Pat Robertson has gone from God sending hurricanes to the wicked, to greenhouse gas emmissions sending them:
"We really need to address the burning of fossil fuels," Robertson said on his "700 Club" broadcast. "It is getting hotter, and the icecaps are melting and there is a buildup of carbon dioxide in the air."
This week the heat index, the perceived temperature based on both air temperatures and humidity, reached 115 Fahrenheit in some regions of the U.S. East Coast. The 76-year-old Robertson told viewers that was "the most convincing evidence I've seen on global warming in a long time."
The guy looks at his temperature gauge, and he's convinced? What a scientific mind.
Can we give him back to the anti-global warming crowd?
• An actual scientist gives his views on global warming and what is needed, although I agree that there's a lot of climate porn out there. I know, I worked on one of them, although it was a little more sober and realistic. We do need an Apollo project for energy, for so many reasons besides global warming.
• Is Jim Webb a 21st-century Theodore Roosevelt?
So many similarities exist between Roosevelt and Webb that it's almost uncanny. Most obvious, both men served heroically in the military, T.R. as leader of the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War and Webb as a decorated Marine in Vietnam.
After combat, Webb served as secretary of the Navy, T.R. as assistant secretary. And each chose to bolt from a Republican Party he felt had lost its bearing.
Roosevelt, a former two-term Republican president, denounced the GOP as corrupt, stormed out of the 1912 convention and ran for president as a Progressive.
Webb, after serving in the Reagan administration and supporting George W. Bush and George Allen in 2000, left the Republican Party after the invasion of Iraq because, he said, the party had "gone crazy."
Roosevelt was a well-known outdoorsman, and Webb has been spotted at times this summer, in the midst of a grueling campaign, backpacking alone in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. And both men were fighters, literally: Roosevelt began boxing at age 4, while Webb, whose campaign uses the slogan "Born Fighting," was on the varsity boxing squad at the Naval Academy.
I think Jim Webb is a real sleeper in Virginia. And it's interesting that Ned Lamont, on ABC, called Teddy Roosevelt his political hero.
• Hey look, an Indonesian province has instituted Islamic law! Freedom IS on the march!
Rove For Connecticut For Lieberman
I wrote last night:
The guy won't be able to find a campaign staff, either. I hear there's a guy in the White House who might be able to squeeze you in. He won't be in any grand jury hearings, so he'll be free. Name's Karl something.
George Stephanopoulos reports today:
According to a close Lieberman adviser, the President's political guru, Karl Rove, has reached out to the Lieberman camp with a message straight from the Oval Office: "The boss wants to help. Whatever we can do, we will do."
Satire is dead.
A Bush endorsement might be the only thing that could stop Joe Lieberman in this strongly Democratic state. You'll see that 48% of Democratic support drop to 10 in no time.
UPDATE: Why in the name of God would a close Lieberman adviser let this slip? I'd expect the Lamont campaign to leak this out if they had the info. But Lieberman's camp? Support coming from Bush is literally the only thing that could erode his Democratic support, and it's not like it will attract moderates, who are far and away the largest segment of the Connecticut electorate. This kind of judgment from advisers and consultants must be why this 18-year incumbent lost a primary in an almost unprecedented fashion.
Connecticut for Lieberman: Fear of a Black Planet
LAUER: Senator, is there any phone call you could receive? Is there anyone in the Democratic Party who could call you today and ask you to drop out that you would listen to?
LIEBERMAN: Respectfully, no. I am committed to this campaign, to a different kind of politics, to bringing the Democratic Party back from Ned Lamont, Maxine Waters to the mainstream, and for doing something for the people of Connecticut. That's what this is all about: which one of us, Lamont or me, can do more for the future of our people here in Connecticut. And on that basis, I'm going forward with confidence, purpose and some real optimism.
Marty Peretz yesterday:
The Lamont ascendancy, if that is what it is, means nothing other than that the left is trying, and in places succeeding, to take back the Democratic Party. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Maxine Waters have stumped for Mr. Lamont.
No subtext to that critique, is there?
I Am Running For President On The Connecticut For Lieberman Ticket
I would like to officially announce that I am seeking the nomination of the Connecticut for Lieberman Party for President in 2008. At this time I feel like the Connecticut for Lieberman Party offers me the best chance of winning.
Connecticut for Lieberman is a small but growing movement. Just yesterday we were nothing; literally, yesterday, we were nothing. Now we have representation in the US Senate, more than the Greens, the American Independents, the Reforms, and the Libertarians. I'm thinking of calling myself a Liebertarian, it rolls off the tongue easier. But for now, I'm a Connecticut for Lieberman and I'm running for President.
I have a unique strategy to win the Connecticut for Lieberman nomination. I'm pulling up my staff in 49 of the 50 states. I will not go to Iowa, or New Hampshire, or Nevada, or South Carolina. I'm putting all my resources into Connecticut, where the Connecticut for Lieberman Party is strongest. If I win there, it'll be on to the convention (are they having a convention? Hmm. OK, it'll be on to Lieberman's house) for a floor battle the likes of which you've never seen.
I stand for the values all Connecticut for Liebermans stand for. We believe in ending the war in Iraq... as long as it's within 3 months of an election. We believe in the firing of Donald Rumsfeld... in the course of a camapaign where we need to appeal to a certain cross-section of voters. We believe that we stopped the dangerous scheme to privatize Social Security... except we flirted with it for longer than anyone in politics. We believe that our party can reach across the aisle - not the Democratic side, but the Republican side (that reminds me, what part of the Capitol will Connecticut for Liebermans sit? Probably in the aisle) - to achieve the kind of results Republicans want for the country. We believe in democracy, as long as Connecticut for Lieberman wins the outcome of that democracy. In fact, if I lose the nomination for President, I plan to run in the general election on the dday for Connecticut for Lieberman ticket.
Also, we hate the crude things they say on the teevee and the Internets and stuff.
I also believe in building the vast Connecticut for Lieberman-wing conspiracy infrastructure. I mean, we don't even have an animal symbol yet, and I hear the ass is taken. Maybe we can use a part of its anatomy...
You can join me in this fight. I have started an exploratory committee called dday for Connecticut for Lieberman for America (DFCFLFA). Your donations at this early stage will help me win the nomination in 2008. I think my chances are very good. Besides, I hear the other politician in the party is a real loser.
UPDATE: My new party has a website!
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Same Script, Different World
From Adam Nagourney's article on the Lamont postmortem:
Ken Mehlman, the Republican National Committee chairman, is planning to give a speech in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday morning in which he will use Mr. Lamont’s victory — and the defeat of a respected three-term senator — to portray Democrats as a party weak on national defense, and his affiliation with blogs to present the Democrats as captive to the extreme wing of the party, Republican aides said.
Even before the results in Connecticut emerged, Republicans had made clear that they would try again to make national security the central issue in the fall Congressional elections. A list of talking points issued by Republican leaders for Senate Republicans to use while on recess this month bluntly advised them to note how “there have been no terrorist attacks on American soil since 9/11.”
They're running the same script in a different world. Three incumbents lost their seats today. Sentiment for "stay the course" is at a decided low ebb. This is not going to work. But the Republicans really don't have another script, do they? They can't run away from the President. They can't suddenly change the way they do business in Washington. Fear's all they've got.
Got a new graphic up to your right called 100 Actions. I'm a little late to the party, as there's only 91 days left until Election Day. But every day there will be a different action on that graphic for you to take, and you can click to get more information. It's sponsored by the DNC and it's the neatest little tool they've come up with in a while.
Republicans for Connecticut for Lieberman
His race will be funded by big Republican money. Think Scaife, Olin, Koch. The big boys. All his institutional Democratic money will dry up, but he'll take that hard-right money. And then he'll be indebted to them. As if he wasn't bad enough already.
The guy won't be able to find a campaign staff, either. I hear there's a guy in the White House who might be able to squeeze you in. He won't be in any grand jury hearings, so he'll be free. Name's Karl something.
Chris Dodd's apparently got to convince Lieberman not to run. Good luck with that.
UPDATE: WOW from Rahm Emanuel:
“This shows what blind loyalty to George Bush and being his love child means,” said Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the head of the Democratic House Congressional campaign. “This is not about the war. It’s blind loyalty to Bush."
He's playing this exactly right. Whip up that anti-incumbent sentiment in the nation.
Connecticut Did It - But They're Not Done
There is no oxygen left in Washington tonight. The impact of the Connecticut Senate primary tonight, Ned Lamont's victory, and Joe Lieberman's announcement of an independent run (Sore Loserman has never been so apropos), can hardly be measured. An incumbent has lost a primary 3 other times in the last 26 years. There was Bob Smith to John Sununu in New Hampshire in 2002, Sheila Frahm of Kansas in 1996 (and she was appointed to replace Dole, then lost to Brownback, so she was never elected to the Senate in the first place), and Alan Dixon of Illinois to Carol Mosely-Braun in 1992. It simply doesn't happen that often. However, THREE incumbents, Cynthia McKinney and Joe Schwarz from the House side along with Lieberman, lost tonight. The anti-incumbent trend is officially off and running. But typically, this doesn't happen. Especially to someone as well-known as a former VP candidate. You have to do a whole lot of screwing up to lose as a well-established 18-year incumbent, outspending your opponent 2 to 1, etc.
Now of course, Lieberman took 48% of the Democratic vote tonight. That won't hold in November, but he'll get a substantial amount of Republican and independent votes that should more than make up the difference. Lieberman is absolutely the overwhelming favorite to win in November.
To beat that, Lamont will have to run a completely different campaign in the general. Connecticut is still a true-blue state; to win Lamont must set out the facts of this betrayal. Lieberman had every opportunity to get the nomination and he lost. It was a hot day in August and yet voter turnout was over 50%, which is unheard of for a primary. I mean completely unheard of. So the idea that Lieberman wanted the whole Democratic electorate to have a chance to vote for him is bogus. They got more Democrats than vote in some general elections.
This is a complete betrayal of the will of the voters, an imposition based wholly on ego to change the rules and break the rules. There are laws in many states to prevent exactly this occurrence from happening; they're called "Sore Loser" laws. And that's just what we're dealing with here.
Lieberman is already hemhoragging support among his DC buddies:
[Lieberman's decision to run as an independent] was met with squeamishness among many within the party establishment who had signaled that they would not support an independent bid by Lieberman. Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh -- who, like Lieberman, has close ties to moderates within the party but is considering a 2008 presidential bid -- quickly announced he would support Lamont.
"Senator Bayh supported Senator Lieberman in the primary because of his respect for Senator Lieberman's service and their long friendship," said Bayh spokesman Dan Pfeiffer. "The Democratic voters of Connecticut have spoken, and Senator Bayh respects their choice and will support their nominee."
Evan Bayh is no wide-eyed liberal.
The Lamont team must be congratulated for a tremendous accomplishment. But now comes the hard part. The odds are very much against them to pull this off in November. But everyone should know that the only proximate cause of this mess is the loser of the Democratic primary and his enormous ego. Progressives and bloggers and MoveOn didn't force Joe Lieberman to run as an independent, sucking resources and money from contested races elsewhere into an otherwise safe seat. The only man who forced this independent run is Lieberman himself.
Lamont must completely change his campaign for the general. He must run on the theme of Sore Loserman. That's the only way to win, to appeal to the American sense of basic fairness. Connecticut is still a blue state, so if he peels off enough Lieber-Dems (and his negatives aren't that high, so there is a possibility), he has a shot. And people don't like incumbents right now. I'm guessing they like ones that run anyway even less.
I'd say it's a tremendous uphill battle the Lamont folks are facing. I'd rate it Lean-Lieberman.
Then again, Joe was up 40 points a few months ago.
The Blogosphere Is Crashing!
It's nearly impossible to log on to any site right now, as everyone's furiously checking Lamont-Lieberman updates as they would halftime scores at a sports bar.
My site is, er, well-functioning.
So I will say that Lamont has a 60%-40% lead right now with 4% of precincts reporting. However, Joementum is in "a virtual tie for second place!!!"
P.S. I do blame the Lamont campaign for crashing the blogosphere. And breaking my digital camera last year.
Enemy of the Ruling Class
Did Chris Matthews actually ask Ned Lamont about a group he calls the "pajamahadeen"? Marty Kaplan at HuffPo says he did:
Chris Matthews to Ned Lamont on MSNBC today: What do you think of the pajamahadeen?
Matthews: The bloggers. They roll out of bed in the morning, they read something in the paper, they blog about it, they talk to each other about it, people blog back, and pretty soon it becomes the buzz.
(Caveat lector: It's my paraphrase, not a transcript.)
Bloggers are the enemy of the traditional media. (I learned that one personally last week) One of its leading lights (albeit a dim bulb) calling bloggers a phrase synonymous with Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists should hammer that home. Of course, they fear us. They fear the democratization of media. They fear market share. They fear multiple voices. They fear the fact that we've caught on to what they do for a living, and we do it better:
It's funny: the entire District of Columbia is built on the exact same process that Chris Matthews describes, except that instead of people using keyboards, they use phones, and instead of blogging, they use their access to print and broadcast media, and to one another.
I lived and worked in politics and journalism in Washington for eight years, and every day, the inviolable morning ritual was that people read the papers, they watched television, and then all day long they called one another to ask, "What do you hear?" The biggest difference between the daily routine of the Beltway chattering class and the blogosphere is that the Gang of 500 (as The Note calls them) has been replaced by the dispersed and inherently more small-d democratic netroots.
They just don't want anybody else getting in on their scam. They don't want to be made irrelevant. In truth, they already are. The chattering class hasn't realized that there's more of us talking amongst ourselves than there are people watching them talk amongst themselves.
This should be a fun election season. Cokie and Chris and the gang are going to need smelling salts to get through it.
Smearing to the Last Drop
Joe Lieberman is out there claiming Ned Lamont and "angry liberal bloggers" hacked his site with a Denial of Service attack. Kos did some digging and gets the real answer:
But now I have the definitive answer as to why Lieberman's site went down.
They are paying $15/month for hosting at a place called MyHostCamp, with a bandwidth limit of 10GB. MyHostCamp is currently down, along with all their clients.
Here's the deal -- you get what you pay for. My hosting bill is now over $7K per month. A smaller site doesn't need that much bandwidth, but if you're paying $15 because your $12 million campaign is too freakin' cheap to pay for quality hosting, then don't go blaming your opponent when your shitty service goes out.
I suspect this is a non-issue to the voters of Connecticut. But it's significant that the Lieberman campaign wanted another last chance to play the victim. Incidentally, the Lamont campaign offered to send a technician to help fix the problem, and put a Google cache of Joe's website up on their blog.
Classy vs. playing the victim.
UPDATE: Lieberman's campaign is now backpedaling furiously.
UPDATE 2: Dick Polman of my former home paper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, notes something significant:
The (Lieberman) campaign had assembled a list of 27 Lieberman criticisms of the Bush war effort, in an attempt to buttress his argument that he's not a lockstep Bush enabler. At first glance, it looked impressive -- hey, the guy did say all these things (Example: "The divisive and unilateral foreign policy that the Administration has followed has borne bitter fruit"). Could it therefore be true that everybody has read Joe wrong?
There was something wierd about the handout, but I couldn't figure out what it was. And then late in the day, when I was no longer absorbed in campaign events, when I was no longer peeking at the sheet while stuck at traffic lights, the obvious truth smacked me between the eyes. It was my Harry Bosch moment:
I circled the dates appended to each of the 27 "anti-Bush" remarks on the war. It turned out that 21 were uttered back in 2003.
This means, of course, that his campaign can't come up with hardly anything more recent. But, beyond that, ask yourself this question: Why was Lieberman seemingly so critical of Bush in that single year, 2003? Why, for instance, did he call for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's removal in October 2003, whereas we have hardly heard him say it since?
Again, the answer jumps out: Back then, Lieberman was eyeing a presidential bid, and he had to get himself more in sync with liberal Democratic voters.
Joe Lieberman - a reliable Democratic voice... whenever there's an election going on.
The End of DeLay for America
Former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay will support a write-in candidate for his old seat, his daughter said today, one day after the state Republican Party lost its legal battle to replace him on the November ballot.
In a statement, DeLay said he would withdraw his name from the ballot. Since state law does not allow a party to replace an official nominee who withdraws from the race, no Republican candidate will be on the ballot. [...]
DeLay maintains that when he resigned from the House this June that he became a resident of Virginia to establish his new business.
"This decision was and is irrevocable, which I made clear from Day One," he said. "My action was taken in accordance with Texas law, federal precedent and common sense. I felt it was my duty to allow Texas Republicans to choose a new candidate for the Fall Election Ballot."
I didn't even have time to get the DeLay for America site up.
I think I'll watch The Big Buy tonight and relive the good times. Thanks for the memories, Tom.
And say hello to your new US Representative from the 22nd District, Nick Lampson. He actually has some great ads on his site.
August 9 - A New Beginning
The Lieberman-Lamont race will play itself out tonight. And at some point we'll know whether we have an incumbent victory, or Lamont in a 2-way race in November, or a 3-way race (which is apparently a done deal if Joementum loses, but there will be a lot of pressure on him to do otherwise).
And then it's on to November. I'm sure a 3-way race will garner a lot of attention. But there's simply so much to do between now and Election Day that the focus will have to widen. The Democrats have some great candidates running, men and women who represent a clear change to the status quo. And a Washington Post poll confirms that this will be a change election:
Most Americans describe themselves as being in an anti-incumbent mood heading into this fall's midterm congressional elections, and the percentage of people who approve of their own representative's performance is at the lowest level since 1994, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
As attention turns to Connecticut for Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman's Democratic primary showdown today, the poll found some of the same political currents that have buffeted his campaign flowing through the national electorate. The public has soured on politicians backing the Iraq war, which Democrats consider the most important issue of the election.
Eighty-one percent of Democrats say the war was not worth fighting, and 70 percent feel that way "strongly." A majority of Democrats, 54 percent, say a candidate endorsing Bush's Iraq policy would be less likely to get their vote, compared with 37 percent for whom it would not make much difference. Two in three Democrats say it is time to begin decreasing troop levels in Iraq, although only one in four supports immediate withdrawal.
The bottom line is that the candidates who come out strongly on the war, who represent a clear difference to "stay the course," will be rewarded. End of story.
Especially worrisome for members of Congress is that the proportion of Americans who approve of their own representative's performance has fallen sharply. Traditionally, voters may express disapproval of Congress as a whole but still vote for their own member, even from the majority party. But 55 percent now approve of their lawmaker, a seven-percentage-point drop over three months and the lowest such finding since 1994, the last time control of the House switched parties.
"That's dramatic," said Republican consultant Ed Rollins, who was White House political director under President Ronald Reagan.
In a small boost for Bush, his approval rating inched up to 40 percent, two percentage points higher than in June and seven higher than in May, suggesting he may have arrested a slide that deeply unnerved Republican lawmakers and strategists. But Bush's standing remains weak for a president in a midterm election year and problematic three months before Election Day.
40% is pretty bad on the eve of an election, not to mention the expected, traditional midterm losses for the party in power (although that conventional wisdom hasn't held the last two midterm election cycles).
Jonathan Singer writes:
Also of concern to Republicans as they desperately try to maintain control of the House: voters favor Congressional Democrats over Congressional Republicans on both the issue of Iraq (43 percent to 40 percent) and the War on Terror (46 percent to 38 percent), numbers that seriously call into question the Republicans' belief that their majorities will be saved if they only hammer away on national defense issues.
I can only hope the Republicans go to the fear well again. The evidence tells me that the country is sick of it.
To the extent that Democratic candidates have the resources to promote themselves locally, and the internal strength to promote a forceful and clear message of change, the chances for a Congressional takeover look better and better.
When Ned Lamont decided to challenge Joe Lieberman (I'd link to his site but they can't seem to back up their servers properly or pay their bills on time) for the Democratic nomination in Connecticut, I was not paying attention. I knew that Lieberman was quick to enable Republican frames and to publicly bash Democrats, and I wondered why his "bitpartisanship" always involved compromising on Republican issues, but never getting Republicans to compromise on Democratic ones.
But it really wasn't on my radar screen. There was a lot of work to be done to take back Congress in November, and I didn't understand how devoting resources and effort into a safe Dem seat would further the goal.
But that was back in February. And while I still haven't contributed to Lamont, I have written quite a bit about him. And I now understand that his fight to take back Connecticut for the people of the state is emblematic of the progressive movement's opportunity to make the best chance of standing up to Republicans and making long-lasting gains. This race has inspired 10,000 Connecticut citizens to register Democratic. It has brought a month's worth of national coverage, where both sides are touting their Democratic bona fides and discussing core Democratic issues. The war is extremely important, but we've seen national coverage of issues like health care, energy, Social Security, end-of-life exigencies, education, and more. It's been refreshing to see these messages get this kind of exposure. That is beneficial for Democrats who are going into a favorable environment in the fall midterms. Those 10,000 extra Democrats will vote in hotly contested House elections in Connecticut, against Chris Shays, against Rob Simmons, against Nancy Johnson. Those news articles with positive Democratic frames will be remembered by voters who maybe aren't believing the spin anymore that Democrats don't have any ideas.
But more than that, this battle between Lamont and Lieberman is a battle for a true politics of contrast versus a politics of mushy-middle capitulation. The Republicans have been playing for keeps for years. Anything that contributes to the downfall of the Democratic Party is a good thing to them. So why, WHY then, as Chris Bowers has noted, hasn't any conservative come out against Lieberman? Indeed why are they all coming out (Kristol and Hannity, to name a few) in support of him? Do they all suddenly want the Democratic Party to succeed?
Of course not. Those guys aren't stupid. They know that Lieberman's fascination with being a "maverick" hurts the Democratic brand; they know that his willingness to provide bipartisan cover helps get their agenda passed. Indeed they know that his loyalty to his own power over Democratic unity is a great victory for them. And they support that. Just look at its house organ:
I agree that this is already a victory for the progressive movement, not just blogs but all aspects. An 18-year Senator who was completely unresponsive to the needs of his constituents had to go back to Connecticut and sweat it out for a month. The establishment in Washington has taken notice. In Rahm Emanuel's case, they've adopted the frames, saying that Lamont's success means that closeness to the President will be punished in November. We in the blogosphere want to work together with the Establishment to promote Democratic causes that will help this great country get back on its feet. We believe that this is the best strategy: provide contrast, never capitulate, and understand the rules of the game as they're played by the other side. We know that Lieberman has his own agenda, which has served this country very poorly.
The establishment didn't want the people of Connecticut to decide their representative to the Senate. They didn't want democracy to flourish in the Northeast Corridor. They wanted to play the game the way it's been played for decades.
We are putting a stop to that. I wish Ned Lamont all the best. This is from a newfound supporter who was converted during your campaign.
Monday, August 07, 2006
Why Do Economists Hate The Economy?
David Sirota, who has a great before-the-fact post-mortem on the Lieberman-Lamont primary today, has also posted yet another definitive account, from leading economists of all political stripes, that a raise of the minimum wage will not kill American jobs, a core talking point on the right for decades.
Prominent economists of all ideological persuasions long believed that raising the U.S. minimum wage would retard job growth, creating unintended hardship for those at the bottom of the ladder.
Today, that consensus is eroding, and a vigorous debate has developed as some argue that boosting the wage would pull millions out of poverty.
A moderate increase in the minimum wage won't raise unemployment among low-skilled workers, according to recent studies, many economists say. They are joined by some business executives who say they can live with that, especially if it's coupled with tax relief.
"My thinking on this has changed dramatically,'' says Alan Blinder, a former Federal Reserve vice chairman who teaches economics at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey. "The evidence appears to be against the simple-minded theory that a modest increase in the minimum wage causes substantial job loss.''
It's simply obvious that, in a service-based econoomy, the workers making the minimum wage can't be fired, and their added buying power will boost the local economy, helping those businesses with a higher wage cost.
"Workers' wages need to at least keep pace with inflation,'' says Andrew Puzder, chief executive officer of Carpinteria, California-based CKE Restaurants Inc., which owns the Hardee's and Carl's Jr. fast-food restaurant chains. Puzder says he supports a reasonable increase in the minimum wage along with some form of tax relief for small businesses.
In a Wells Fargo-Gallup poll taken in March, 46 percent of small-business owners said the minimum wage should be increased, and 86 percent said the wage had no effect on them.
"The wage has been left at such a low level for so many years now that inflation has eroded it,'' says Scott Anderson, a senior economist at San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co., the fifth-biggest U.S. bank. "It's not as onerous to employers as it once was.''
Of course, this won't stop Republicans from stamping their little feet and demanding that Paris Hilton gets millions of dollars in tax cuts before any waitress can get their extra 2 bucks an hour.
Lots of good economic surveys and statistical models in the article. Have a read.
Big Victory for DeLay for America
Justice Antonin Scalia's rejection of a stay request in the Texas-22 ballot lawsuit means that the Supreme Court will not be able to take the case in time, and Tom DeLay will be the Republican candidate for Congress on the ballot in that district. Now he'll either run against former Rep. Nick Lampson, or he'll let him go unchallenged. Either way, the Democrats just got a gift. They're either running unopposed in a pale-red district in Texas, or they're running against a guy who bolted the state to become a lobbyist in Virginia. Either way, the Democrats would be hard-pressed to lose. In their minds, they have to be thinking, "1 down, 14 to go."
DeLay for America apparel can be found here.
Make War Not Love
Martin Peretz, whose New Republic has lost massive subscription rates in the past 4 years, and who appears to be a thundering jackass to boot, pens a column for The Wall Street Journal today that might as well have been written in 1972. In fact it features 1972, proving my point from last week that Ned Lamont's fight is George McGovern's fight, that the squares still imagine themselves at war with the hippies, that nothing has changed with these guys in 30 years.
Max Sawicky obliterates the whole thing at TPM Cafe.
Martin Peretz is here to tell you, where else, via that liberal media the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, that the "really true-red" state of Connecticut is full of "thought-enforcer" commies who are going to give commie Ned Lamont a primary victory tomorrow over Joe Lieberman. Commie Ned Lamont is "from the stock of Morgan partner Thomas Lamont and that most high-born American Stalinist, Corliss Lamont." One 'a them rich commies! The Lamont campaign echoes that of George McGovern, who is like Stalinist Commie agent Henry Wallace. Do you get the picture?
(It would only confuse the reader to reveal that JL himself was a McGovernik anti-war type in his younger days.)
A little note slipped in at the end is that we are not just talking about commies. We're talkin black commies, the worst kind: "Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Maxine Waters have stumped for Mr. Lamont." (No white folks support Lamont? In Connecticut?)
Methinks someone's slip is showing.
Peretz holds people in contempt. Anyone that decides on their own that a neocon enabler who hurts the Democratic Party repeatedly might not be the best choice for the Democratic primary is a lunatic. A wild-eyed hippie peacenik lunatic.
This hatred and contempt of the people is why the Democrats have been losing elections for years and years. Funny how that's always their critique of the "whacko liberal lefty" crowd. It's pure projection. They don't want the barbarians at the gate to come over the wall. The problem is that thanks to technology, and the general sense that their way isn't working, there is no wall to speak of.
The Neys Have It
The Republican Culture of Corruption claims another victim:
Ney Forced Out: Handpicks Favorite of Ohio’s Most Corrupt Politicians and the Special Interests
Chooses Taft-appointed State Senator Joy Padgett (OH-20) to Run in His Place
Ney called Padgett on Saturday and asked the fellow Republican to run in his place, saying that defending himself has been a strain on his family, she said. [AP, 8/7/06]
This is a State Senator appointed by Ohio's corrupt and unpopular governor, chosen to replace Ohio's unpopular and corrupt Congressman on the ballot. Has she even won an election before or does she keep getting kicked upstairs?
Maybe her elusive electoral record is because of her actual record:
Terry Anderson is running for the Ohio Senate in the district encompassing my hometown of Athens, Ohio. His opponent, Joy Padgett, has resorted to a shameful attack on Anderson, who was held hostage for nearly seven years while he was a reporter for the Associated Press in the Middle East. Padgett, also a strong supporter of the defense of marriage amendment on the Nov. 2 Ohio ballot, misused a picture of Anderson confronting one of his Hezbollah captors, implying that Anderson is soft on terrorism.
Nice. Nothing like Swiftboating a hostage. I guess he must have been asking for it by going over to the Middle East in the first place. Terrorist lover.
So first it was Tom DeLay leaving Congress to get off the ballot (although he did it so dishonestly it looks like it won't even work), and now Ney, who's probably a week out from getting indicted in the Jack Abramoff scandal, jumps off the ballot.
Who are the cut-and-runners again?
Sunday, August 06, 2006
The View From 10,000 Miles Is Better
Today Condi Rice went on ABC's This Week and made what I consider to be the signature statement about how the neocon chickenhawks in the White House view war.
George Stephanopoulos confronted her with Tom Lasseter's article from McClatchy Newspapers. Lasseter has been on the ground in Iraq for a long, long time, and he consistently provides some of the best reporting from the region. This piece in question confirms what we've all been suspecting, that the Shiites and Sunnis are RIGHT NOW engaged in a civil war, according to the people best informed to make that decision: the soldiers that confront them every day:
While American politicians and generals in Washington discuss the possibility of civil war in Iraq, many U.S. officers and enlisted men who patrol Baghdad say it already has begun.
Army troops in and around the capital interviewed in the past week cite a long list of evidence that the center of the nation is coming undone: Villages have been abandoned by Sunni and Shiite Muslims; Sunni insurgents have killed thousands of Shiites in car bombings and assassinations; Shiite militia death squads have tortured and killed hundreds, if not thousands, of Sunnis; and, when night falls, neighborhoods become open battlegrounds.
"There's one street that's the dividing line. They shoot mortars across the line and abduct people back and forth," said 1st Lt. Brian Johnson, a 4th Infantry Division platoon leader from Houston. Johnson, 24, was describing the nightly violence that pits Sunni gunmen from Baghdad's Ghazaliyah neighborhood against Shiite gunmen from the nearby Shula district.
The bodies of captured Sunni and Shiite fighters turn up in the morning, dropped in canals and left on the side of the road.
Higher-ranking U.S. officers concede that developments are threatening to move beyond their grasp.
"There's no plan — we are constantly reacting," said a senior military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "I have absolutely no idea what we're going to do." [...]
"This is a civil war," said a senior adviser to the commander of the Iraqi Army's 6th Division, which oversees much of Baghdad. "The problem between Sunnis and Shiites is a religious one, and it gets worse every time they attack each other's mosques.
"Iraq is now caught in hell." [...]
Osborne, 39, of Decatur, Ill., compared Iraq to Rwanda, where hundreds of thousands of people were killed in an orgy of intertribal violence in 1994. "That was without doubt a civil war — the same thing is happening here.
"But it's not called a civil war — there's such a negative connotation to that word and it suggests failure," he said.
That's a liberal quotation, but it's still worth reading the whole article to get a sense of what the troops on the ground think about the widening sectarian violence right in front of their eyes.
So Stephanopoulos reads a passage of this article to the Secretary of State. He actually highlighted this quote:
"It's to the point of being irreconcilable; you know, we've found a lot of bodies, entire villages have been cleared out, we get reports of entire markets being gunned down," said (Staff Sgt. Wesley) Ramon, "and if that's not a marker of a civil war, I don't know what is."
And then he asks:
CR: Well, first of all, again, it is a hypothetical, and I'm not going to comment on a hypothetical. The US troops are there to support a unity government, and unified security forces. And that is what they're doing, and that's what they're doing all day. I'm certain that if you're on the ground in the midst of sometimes terrible violence, that it's difficult to see the larger political process that is underway. I don't doubt the sincerity of the sergeant who spoke in that way. But I know what the Iraqi government and the great majority of the Iraqi people are doing. And they are trying to build a unified Iraq.
Boy, it must be nice to see the whole picture of Iraq from your briefing room. I know those philistines out in the field can't possibly fathom what it is you in the ivory towers of State and Defense are up to. They just have to see Sunni bodies dumped in ditches, gun battles that last all night, mortar attacks between rival factions. They can't understand the purity and goodness and sweetness and light of this Democracy Project (TM)!
Maybe if Ms. Rice, or anyone in this Bush Administration, were in the foxhole, or had ever been in the foxhole, or had any member of their family or indeed anyone they ever knew in the foxhole, then MAYBE, they wouldn't be blinded by the self-deluded righteousness of their cause and look at reality as it is. What the Secretary of State is saying is that reality doesn't tell the whole story. Facts are meaningless. War is not something to be fought but to be strategized and given over to history.
Then she said, as proof that the Sunnis and Shiites are just hunky-dory, that "the South has not walked out of the Senate and declared civil war," because, you know, as long as the dysfunctional central government is united in not doing anything about the wholesale slaughter and the ethnic cleansing in their cities, then everything's peachy.
This serves as the ultimate chickenhawk statement, if you ask me. After all, the view from 10,000 miles away is always better than the view from up close.
As a postscript to yesterday's fireworks, yeah, somebody posted my entire set of personal info on Bill's New West Notes website. Lovely clientele he's got over there. Although the many bloggers from Kos who went over there to antagonize him didn't help. I don't condone that.
Well, whatever, I'm an open book. Like Bill said, I link to my resume here so all that personal info is out there for anyone enterprising enough to want it. It's the cost of self-promotion. I did, however, realize that it was a bit stupid and naive to put an address out there for all to see, and I changed my online resume to reflect.
This was Bill's take on it:
Someone just posted stalker Dave's real name, home address, cell and home phone numbers, and e-mail address here. Which I have deleted.
While it is true that that character is using his wildly distorted story to promote himself and his blog over at Kosworld, and that info is, as "Boris" pointed out when he posted it here, availalbe on that little clown's blog, it's not appropriate to place it here where someone might see it and start harassing him in like manner.
That's not how I do things.
Now please, evedryone, this was amusing for awhile but now it stops. Everything will be summarily deleted.
Somehow I knew he'd blame me for a bunch of other people infiltrating his site (which I haven't posted to since the incident, and I don't condone). I did of course know what I was getting into posting the sordid story here, but I thought it was significant.
Oh, I also got a threatening couple of comments from someone known as "Dennis Morrison". One of them is grounds-for-a-lawsuit threatening.
You fucking moron.
You have your real name, home address, phone number, and cell number on this web site.
And you start a flame war blood feud with somebody?
Excuse me David Dayden, do I need to drive out to Santa Monica to tell you this? Not smart. Very dumb.
He spelled my name wrong, by the way. Like I said, a lovely clientele.
UPDATE: The dude came back to the Kos diary this morning. Scroll all the way down. Talk about digging your own grave!
Sticking a Fork In It
One thing about Rahm Emanuel is that he's shrewd as hell (and would you expect any less from the brother of Ari from Entourage? OK, the model for Ari from Entourage, Ari Emanuel. Incidentally, Rahm should play that up more - the guy's a beloved character, at least to the HBO crowd). Atrios found this quote, and it's clear that he's getting out in front of Tuesday's Connecticut Senate primary:
Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Friday he is not worried about the fallout from the Senate primary on House races, arguing that the message from Connecticut is that anyone supporting Bush’s war policies is in deep trouble. “What’s playing out here is that being a rubber stamp for George Bush is politically dangerous to life-threatening,” he said.
The political ju-jitsu here is striking, especially coming from an incumbent member of the DC establishment. But it's very, very smart. Since the entire world is paying attention to this Senate primary, why not turn it into a campaign theme: vote Democratic this November if you want to support checks and balances. Those that enable Bush need to go; those that oppose him will be rewarded. Since the media moons over narratives like this, and always want to cast particular events as part of a larger picture, this should get some play.
I don't think it's entirely true. This is a PRIMARY we're talking about, and its implications for the midterms as a whole leave out the fact that there will be Republicans and independents voting in November. I do think that a Lamont victory will excite the base, and base turnout has been crucial the last few elections. So there's a grain of truth. But it's a great streategy for Emanuel to come out this forcefully and make sure the tea leaves are being read in a favorable way. It's nothing short of amazing, however, that Rahm is doing this BEFORE the primary, essentially sticking the fork in Lieberman before he's done.
I do agree with Chris Bowers that, regardless of the polls, the election will be tight. Turnout will be the key, and Lieberman's been at it in Connecticut for 30 years, so even an incomptent staff with that kind of experience should be able to gain a few points in the ground game. But, pay attention: those who think that this primary hurts the party ought to read this:
From May through Friday, 11,496 unaffiliated voters became registered Democrats. From May through the end of July, 10,344 new voters became registered Democrats, said Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz. "If you think about those Democrats, those are people who are obviously motivated to participate. That could have an impact on not only turnout, but election results," Bysiewicz said.
It's GREAT to have that kind of excitement in the state for Democrats. That will really help in November, when 3 endangered moderate Republicans face challenges for Congress. Having 11,000 extra excited and engaged voters will help a lot in those races. This is why I continue to think that primaries can be so positive for the party.
P.S. I thought Lamont's appearance on ABC's This Week was really fantastic. I'm pulling for the guy; he's overcome tremendously long odds just to get this far, and you get the feeling that he's doing what's genuine for himself.